Glare – 3.1

Previous Chapter                                                                                           Next Chapter

Cities, like people, got their second chances.  Few cities had needed one so badly as this.  I was left hoping the other cities were doing better with their second opportunities, because nothing I was seeing was very promising, here.

The four teams under the Wardens’ umbrella, now condensed down to three, were divided into those who wanted to return to the way things had been and those who wanted to forge a new way forward, learning from the mistakes of the past.  The appeal of returning to a semblance of what we’d had was clear- we missed the foods, the places, the familiar businesses and media, the familiar faces.

We wanted normal and even now every meal, every soap we used, every piece of clothing, it was a reminder of how far from normal we were.  It was different and often less because we had less, and we had less of a footing.  I wasn’t the only person who felt their stomach sink when we saw the news two weeks after the broken trigger had decimated the reconstruction workers’ protest, saying that the transportation strike was imminent, and that factory workers were contemplating joining in, an across-the-board attempt to demand stability and structure.

It was important, a line had to be drawn and the endless talks about what our government would look like needed to end, but I still saw the reports and I knew the foods, clothes, and routine I wanted were going to have to wait that much longer.

That was one of the prevailing arguments for normal, for going back.  This section of the city, this settlement, was the counterpoint.

Brockton Bay had been a port, growing as the industry did.  A lot of what made it work as a fledgling port city made New Brockton work as one of our first footholds in Earth Gimel.  Lumber, quarrying, some surface level minerals, and geography protected from the harshest sweeps of cold weather from the north.

The industry had become a prominent part of the city, and then the greater industry had outgrown it.  Things had reached the point where it was easier to take one big ship and go to Boston and transport goods from there than to take two smaller ships and go to Brockton Bay, even if Brockton Bay was closer to the goods’ destination.  The factories and goods went where the ships went, because it wasn’t sensible to ship raw materials from Boston to Brockton Bay to do manufacturing when Boston could handle it.

New Brockton felt like it sat on that brink between relevance and ruin.  As a settlement, it was defined by tall buildings and the edifices of heavy industry.  There were ships finding their way past each other on the water and big brick buildings with black plumes of smoke rising from their chimneys.  Already back to the ways of an era that predated me, cutting corners to produce more at a cost to tomorrow.  It was crowded and bursting at the seams, and it had been for a while now, trying to grow despite the constraints of water and mountain around it.

It didn’t escape me that the settlement continued to chug along while the gears and belts of the greater megalopolis were grinding to a stop under strikes and shutdowns.

I walked, rather than fly, because the directions I’d been given mandated it.  I suspected it was intentional.  I knew there were eyes on me, I knew who some of those eyes belonged to, and I had strong suspicions about others.

The racist graffiti no longer dominated downtown, though I did see some, with half of it partially painted over or altered.  Many of the people who had lived and thrived in Brockton Bay had made their way here, after all.  An attempt had been made to use wall space, to give the tenements-and-factories color when mirrored windows on skycrapers didn’t steal it from the sky or water.  Murals now decorated many of the walls and building fronts, no doubt an attempt to leave less open wall space for the gang tags and symbols.  Animals and symbols of humanity like clasped hands covered residential areas.  Green trees, branches, and lush mountains painted almost ironically on the sides of factories and power plants.

There were places that mirrored home, in layout and the buildings that had been placed.  The area that had been the Towers at the southwest corner of the city was still the Towers.  Downtown was still where Downtown had been.  A Lord Street stabbed north-to-south through the settlement.  Despite the attempts, it wasn’t home.  It came from something different.

Such was the counterpoint: in attempting to paint a picture of home, we might distort or create a caricature of that picture.  If we rushed it or forced it, we risked making some of the same fundamental mistakes we’d made before, building on cracked foundations.

Seeing the murals, the directions I’d received started to make sense.  The path was byzantine.  Go the way the wolf and his cubs are looking.  A wolf and three cubs that looked like they were made of white smoke were painted on a concrete wall.  They stood facing one way, but their heads were looking back.

Walk beneath the leaping rabbit.  A rabbit decorated an arch at the edge of a children’s park.  The park felt small and lonely amid larger, taller buildings, partially fenced in, with room for two swings, a slide, a sandbox and one basketball half-court that would have to be vacated if a car came through to use the parking garage or if the dump truck came for the dumpster at the back of a building.

Follow the snake.

If I hadn’t known it was a snake, I might not have realized what it was.  It was sectioned off, the skeleton of a winding serpent with each vertebrae several feet from the other.  Three white pieces along one wall, a white-painted drain cover, then more segments on the wall opposite.

The painted lines of a crosswalk took me across the street.  I followed more segments of the snake to reach one of the larger apartment complexes, four identical L-shaped buildings framing a plaza.  The bottom floors of the buildings and the lowest floors along the inside of each ‘L’ had some basic stores.

Two years ago, this would have been one of the nicer areas in Earth Gimel, if a little basic.  No-name grocery store, clothing store, and home-goods store.  It was dated already, and I could already imagine two years from now, when various murals might be faded or defaced, when the metal chairs and tables would be rusted, the stores closed or forgotten.  The snake cut through the plaza, which could have seated two hundred people, but currently had six.  Any earlier and there would have been people having a late lunch.  Any later and it would be time for an early dinner or an after-work bite to eat.

A tunnel led through the body of one of the apartment buildings, leading from plaza to parking lot.  The mural of a cat with its back twisting and arching was painted on the walls and roof.  Its paws stuck out and across the footpath firmly pressed down on the snake’s neck.

‘Wait’ was the last instruction.

I checked my phone.  One message:

K:
K.

I flicked my thumb, spun up the music player and then fished my earbuds out of the pocket of my jacket.  I put only one in, so I could keep one ear out for trouble.

I waited long enough for five songs to start and stop.  A pair of people arrived at the plaza, got their food, ate, and left, before anything happened.  I wondered more than once if I’d been baited to come here as a way of making me waste time.

“You get fifteen minutes.”

I turned my head in the direction of the parking lot, turning off my music and pulling the ear-bud free.  I moved my hand in a circle to catch most of the length of cord in a loop.

Tattletale had reversed her costume colors from black on lavender to a more royal purple on black.  The same pattern of lines slashing across her costume remained- horizontal line across the upper chest, vertical line slashing down from that, to form a stylized ‘T’.  Another horizontal line jutted out from halfway down, followed by another vertical line piercing that line, a smaller ‘t’ nestled under the right arm of its big brother.  She wasn’t the type to get photographed or caught clearly on video, and it was painted in such broad strokes that I suspected many people missed it.

It kind of smacked of narcissism, I felt, to wear one’s initials.  The more black costume, at least, looked more distinguished.  Her hair needed a bit of combing, like it had been tousled by the wind and it hadn’t been fixed.

She was followed by a flurry of small birds that settled on the street by the exit of the alley, and by one bodyguard.  The cape was burly, wearing a skintight suit that showed off his muscles, and wore a heavy cloth hood with eyeholes cut out, a series of ‘x’ stitches forming a frowny-face.  The lines around his eyes were cut deep.  Very weary.  He stood with his hands clasped behind him.

On the other side of the tunnel, one of the men that had been eating in the plaza had approached.  He now stood with his back ramrod straight, his hands clasped behind him.  Very clean cut, hair short and styled, recently shaved, t-shirt, black slacks, and shiny black shoes.

I knew Tattletale knew how my forcefield worked.  If the man had a gun, he was potentially a danger to me.

“I like the cat,” I said, pointing.  “Subtle.”

“Fifteen minutes, Vicky,” Tattletale said.  “It’s going to be a lot less if you want to make small talk.  If this becomes you wagging your finger at me and acting all holier-than-thou, I’m walking.  I’m busy these days.  The only reason I’m giving you time out of my day is hometown respect.”

I fished in my pocket.  I pulled out the paper.  “This isn’t because you wanted to talk to me?”

“When you’re positioned like I am, you can’t ever do one thing.  That message was intended to do a few things at once.”

“I couldn’t help but notice your use of ‘Glory Hole’.  Seemed unnecessarily antagonistic.”

She leaned against the wall by the cat’s head and smiled at me.  “One, I’m unnecessarily antagonistic.  Two, it serves to let you know who the letter is from, it pushes you off balance if you’re in a position to be easily put off balance, which I would want to know about, and finally, three, if the messenger is the type to ignore my instructions, read the letter and try using that phrasing against you, then they’re liable to get hurt.  That makes it clear I’m to be listened to.  Cleat isn’t the brightest, and he could stand to learn that lesson.”

“And you wanting to talk to me wasn’t one of your reasons?”

“That’s something else entirely.  I offered Hollow Point three asks at a significant discount.  Three times they can reach out to me and get info, now that they’ve paid.  I did this to get them into my debt, to see if they were intelligent enough to ask good questions, and to get them used to paying me money for intel.  If that tide somehow rises, I want my fortunes to rise with it.  You turned up, and they wanted to know, were you the first of a larger group of heroes who were going to make a move?  Who were you, and what role did you play?”

“And your response was this?”

“Multiple purposes, Vicky.  Keep up.  If you don’t care enough you decide it’s not worth it and leave.  Unlikely.  You could get a little upset, and in the doing you reveal what you’re up to.  Or you’re invested on some level, and you reach out, and the dialogue is opened.  If the dialogue is opened, I’m better equipped to deal with you and to deal with Hollow Point.  How the dialogue is opened tells me a lot, too.  You could have come charging after me.  You didn’t.  You asked around for how to contact me, used a liaison, and you respected my direction and my rules in my part of the city.”

My part of the city, I thought.  Yeah.  Impressions verified – New Brockton had retained many of the problems of its predecessor.

“Cedar Point isn’t yours?” I asked.

She shrugged.  “We’ll see what it ends up being.  For now, you’ve got people of Cleat’s caliber there.”

“I asked around a bit before leaving.”

“I know.”

“The construction work dried up, people are moving elsewhere.   Nothing was drawing people in.  Then, in the span of a few days, a large number of people buy apartments, homes, and other properties.  Never mind the fact that there isn’t a lot going on there.  Now a lot of supervillains are making themselves comfortable, figuring out who’ll work with them and who won’t.  Some places and people might be open to them doing business, others are already feeling the pressure to leave, scary people hanging around and intimidating them.  People of Cleat’s caliber, maybe, but an awful lot of them.”

“It’s not the only place.  It’s the biggest of them,” Tattletale said.  “All the itinerant and teamless villains needed to settle somewhere eventually.  Hollow Point is just loose enough they won’t necessarily kill each other, but self preservation keeps them together and following some basic rules.  Some charisma here and there steers them.”

“New Brockton doesn’t count?” I asked.

“Different thing.  Hollow Point is the largest place without a major player heading things.  So far.  New Brockton obviously has its major players securely in place.”

“And even though that neighborhood isn’t yours and isn’t even close to yours, you want me gone?”

“No,” she said.  “You want you gone, if you know what’s good for you.  You don’t want to get involved with that.  You might make headway, but it won’t last.  You’re outnumbered, they’ve got better resources, and if you ever succeed to any measurable degree, they can do things like call in the second of the asks they bought from me.  Then they get an answer, and you have a bad day.”

“Alright,” I said.  I glanced back.  The man standing at the edge of the plaza hadn’t budged.  The brute with the bag over his head hadn’t either.

“If it’s not me they ask, then it’s someone else, and you potentially have an even worse day.  I know you hate my guts, but the reality is I’m one of the nice ones.”

There were a lot of responses I could give to that.  I bit my tongue.

I released my tongue and said, “Hypothetically, if you don’t mind hypotheticals…”

“I’m a great fan of the hypothetical.”

“…If I asked you where you suggested going, if Cedar Point isn’t workable or if it’s untouchable because someone like you is going to step in before any heroes make headway… what places would you suggest?  Outside of the established jurisdictions for teams.”

“I wouldn’t suggest anything.  It’s a wild west out there and there’s no place for you out there.  Not anymore.”

I folded my arms.  I’d expected an answer like this.

“The people who win are the people with clout.  While you were teaching school kids which direction a gun should point or hauling water out to the refugees still back on Bet, the rest of us were working.  I and people like me were getting our hooks in and laying groundwork to build something behind the scenes.  Taking over corner worlds, finding footholds in this world, starting up businesses, establishing reputations.  The big hero teams have some influence because they’ve been recruiting and they staked out their territory.  Hero and villain, we’re the major players, but we operate the same fundamental way.  We’re scary.  The thinkers, the masters, the masterminds, and the people with the biggest guns.”

“And Cedar Point?”

“Cedar Point, if you want to call it that, and its sister locations are late to the game.  They have some clout because they have numbers and a bit of organization, and because they can all scrape together enough money to call in a big gun if they really truly need it.  They probably won’t last.  Someone nasty will step in and take over what they’re trying to build and it’s probably going to be ugly.  The only reason they’ve lasted this long is that the rest of us have bigger fish to fry.  They’re still a few rungs up the totem pole above you, mind you.”

“It’s too hard so it’s not worth trying?”

“Go home, Vicky,” she said, almost sighing the words.  “Go back, figure out your family thing, keep trying to sign on to one of the big hero teams, you’re bound to find a position somewhere eventually.  Some cape will die in battle, and a seat will open up for you and you’ll do fine.  Or retire.  After what your sister did to you, nobody would blame you.”

I closed my eyes.

“Do what any self-respecting twenty-one year old would do after failing to get into university, get a job waitressing or making hero sandwiches.  Talk to your kids about the old Glory days.”

I opened my eyes.  “And what happens to Cedar Point, in this hypothetical?”

“I’m talking reality, Vicky.  It’s going to be the same thing that was going to happen before the villains turned up, and it’s the same thing that’s going to happen when and if you try and summarily fail to change things there.  The area struggles, it withers, it becomes irrelevant.  This isn’t your fight, and it’s not what you’re equipped to do.  You hit things.  You can take a bullet, unless you’re doing something peculiar like keeping your forcefield down while standing between a man with a gun and Snuff here.”

“Heya,” Snuff said, raising a hand.

I didn’t move a muscle, didn’t react.  Tattletale smiled.

“I know what you’re doing with your forcefield, Vicky.  Just like I did back then.  I know why you’re doing it, too.  I know you don’t belong in Cedar Point, and I know you’re just going to cause headaches for me and the actual heroes if you try anything.  It’s not your skillset, it’s not your powerset.”

I still had the paper in my hand.  I tapped it against my upper arm, my arms still folded.  “Four years, and you haven’t changed a bit since you raided that bank.”

“When we robbed that bank, I was doing multiple things all at once, laying groundwork for moves I wouldn’t make for weeks and months.  If I haven’t changed from that, I think I’m doing okay,” she said.

“Are you, though?” I asked.  “Your hair is messy, and you look tired.”

“I’m going to pretend you’re actually asking out of a concern for my well being, because if I didn’t pretend, I’d walk away, and I might even give some free-of-charge advice to those Hollow Point ruffians, telling them how to beat you if they run into you.”

“Entirely out of concern for your well being,” I said, with as little warmth and concern in my voice as I could muster.  “Hometown respect, you know.”

“I’m one of the major players now.  The other major players call me for a hint when they’re stuck on something.  I’m wealthy, well-positioned, and safe.  I’m now sharing the love and bringing some of that security, stability, and safety to others, in my very, very roundabout way.  It’s part of why I’m having this conversation with you.”

“Sure,” I said.  I paused.  “Speaking of you showing up, I’m surprised the rest of your old team didn’t turn up too, for old time or camaraderie’s sake.”

She turned.  With the way the light came through the tunnel, I could see the eye symbol on her chest in a slightly different shade of purple, hidden where the vertical bar met the horizontal, and the shadows meant I could no longer see her eyes or expression.   Maintaining the same tone, she said, “No, you’re not surprised.  You know full well they’re well positioned too.  They’re doing their own things.  They’re still a resource I can and will tap.”

“Gotcha,” I said.

“But I think you were trying to get a jab in, and that’s a good sign this conversation has run its course.  I’ll wish you good luck in your endeavors, whether you join a big team or end up making those sandwiches.  So long as you stay out of my way.”

“Out of curiosity,” I said.  I saw her pause, just as she was about to turn to walk away.  I continued, “Do you regret your part in what happened with my sister?”

“Do you?” she asked, without missing a beat.

“Absolutely,” I said, without any more hesitation than she’d shown.

“Be sure to call before you set foot in my neighborhood again.  You and your friend have a nice flight home.”

Friend?  My first thought was that she meant my autonomous forcefield, that she was personifying it.

Then I realized who she really meant.  Just as surprising that she would be aware, but not as alarming.

She hadn’t answered my question, but I hadn’t expected an answer.  She and Snuff walked to the parking lot, turning the corner there.  Behind me, the gunman was walking back to his table.

My impression was that I was better off heading the way I’d come than I was leaving.

The moment I didn’t have the roof of the tunnel over my head, I took to the air.

I was high enough that I could see the entirety of Tattletale’s realm, and where the city was bleeding into and through the mountains and forest to connect to other areas and the remainder of the megalopolis.  I could see the boats on the water, like ants on an anthill, the black smoke, and the patches that gleamed with a forced luster.

It wasn’t home.  The worst of the fucking racists were gone, I had to hope, but the rest of the bad stuff seemed to be firmly entrenched in there.

I drew my phone from my pocket.  I put the one earbud in, some music to drown out my thoughts while I steadied myself.

Me:
Did you record all of that?

A dark shape flew within a foot of me.  For an instant, I thought it might have been one of the small birds that had arrived with Tattletale.

It was a sphere, consisting of several layers like an onion, alternating blue and red.  The lens was a white circle, and as it roved, the layers moved to accommodate it looking around.  Several fins extended out from the two most external layers, moving independently of one another to correct its position and hold eerily steady in the wind.

Recorded it all,” the camera said, Kenzie’s voice with some synthesizer mixing things up.

“You got the sound, too?”

“Of course,” she said.  “Can I listen to it?

“No,” I said.  “Not yet.  Not when Tattletale operates the way she does.  I’ve got a long flight back.  Any way you can replay the conversation for me so I can listen to it on the way back, and figure out if anything needs redacting?”

Without listening in?

“I’d prefer if you listened in with the rest of the group.  I’m concerned Tattletale can say something to me that affects one of you.  She touched on some personal subjects, and I need to think about how much I’m comfortable sharing.”

Not a problem.  Give me a minute.

I started my flight home, the camera flying alongside me.

I expected the camera to speak, when Kenzie was ready.  I was a little surprised when it came through my ear-bud instead.

“…you’re bound to find a position somewhere eventually.  Some cape will die in battle, and a seat will open up for you and you’ll do fine.  Or retire.  After what your sister did to you, nobody would blame you.”

I was still, listening to this.  The others, Rain excepted, were gathered around the table.  The library had picnic tables and benches strewn around, and some patio chairs for reading outdoors when the weather was good. They had arranged themselves on a mixture of seats, with Ashley standing.  Kenzie’s laptop was sitting on a patio table, with Rain watching in through a halting, low-res webcam.

I’d been periodically pausing the conversation, to fill in gaps with basic knowledge and context, but I left things alone for this one.

“Do what any self-respecting twenty-one year old would do after failing to get into university, get a job waitressing or making hero sandwiches.  Talk to your kids about the old Glory days.”

“Pause,” I said.

The recording paused.

“It took her a little while to get around to it, but it’s worth stressing that this is who she is.  I thought about redacting these parts, but I think it’s important you know.  The PRT thought she had the ability to sense weak points, primarily psychological ones.  I agree with that assessment.”

“Your sister is Panacea, right?” Chris asked.

I tensed a bit.

“Chris,” Sveta said.  “I think Victoria would prefer it if we glossed over that part.”

“It’s for context.  Like she just said, it stresses who Tattletale is.”

“She was a healer,” I said.  “Tattletale’s words caught her in a bad way at a bad time.  Two months later, she had a mental breakdown.  In part because of what Tattletale said.  She put me in the hospital.  Let’s leave it at that.”

“Resume recording,” Kenzie said.

And what happens to Cedar Point, in this hypothetical?

“I’m talking reality, Vicky.  It’s going to be the same thing that was going to happen before the villains turned up, and it’s the same thing that’s going to happen when and if you try and summarily fail to change things there.”

“Pause,” I said.  “She likes to act like she knows what’s going to happen, but it’s worth saying she can be surprised.  She was surprised at the bank.  She and her team pulled it off regardless, but… she was surprised by my arrival, and by my sister being there.”

“Worth keeping in mind,” Tristan said.  “If we wind up fighting her.”

“I’m giving you all the info I can, so you can make an informed decision,” I said.  “Resume.”

-The area struggles, it withers, it becomes irrelevant.  This isn’t your fight, and it’s not what you’re equipped to do.  You hit things.  You-

Kenzie’s voice chimed in with a cheerful, synthesized, “Redacted!

“Pause.  Redacted because it’s a weak point,” I said.  “Power-related.”

“I think I know,” Sveta said.  “If this makes you doubt Victoria at all, I hope me vouching for her helps.”

“It helps,” Kenzie said.  “Not that I was doubting her.”

“Resume,” I said.

-I know you don’t belong in Cedar Point, and I know you’re just going to cause headaches for me and the actual heroes if you try anything.  It’s not your skillset, it’s not your powerset.

There was a small chime as a message appeared in the corner of the laptop.  The recording paused in response to the message appearing.

Rain:  Is it ours?

“That’s a conversation I want to have shortly,” I said.  “Powers.”

“I’m looking forward to this,” Chris said.

Behind him, pacing a little, Ashley smiled.

Right.

“Resume,” I said.

“Redacted, redacted,” Kenzie’s synthesized voice played.  Then Tattletale’s voice came up again.  “I’m one of the major players now.  The other major players call me for a hint when they’re stuck on something.  I’m wealthy, well-positioned, and safe.  I’m now sharing the love and bringing some of that security, stability, and safety to others, in my very, very roundabout way.  It’s part of why I’m having this conversation with you.

“Stop,” I said.  The recording paused, and Kenzie hit a keyboard shortcut to close the window.  “Everything that followed was small talk, some threats from her, and stuff about my sister I don’t want to get into.  That’s Tattletale.  That’s how she sees the world.  I do believe her when she says there’s no good way to break into this scene.  There are a lot of people who want to hold their positions and the power they’ve taken for themselves, and when you’ve cornered them, they’re going to call people like Tattletale for backup.”

“Or worse,” Ashley said.  That was apparently what she’d fixated on, during the earlier part of the conversation.

“Or worse.  People who are good at the roles they’ve taken on, well-proven by years of experience, people who can and will casually destroy you.”

“No matter what we do,” Sveta said, “We’re going to run into trouble.  So we do nothing or we plan for it.”

“We plan for it,” Tristan said.  “Ashley and I were talking about this.  Something that might fit our niche, and gives key members of our team what they’re looking for.”

He looked at Kenzie as he said the last bit, and Kenzie visibly perked up.

“You have a game plan?” I asked.

“The start of one,” Tristan said.  “Maybe.”

I thought about that for a moment.  The others exchanged a few words, and a chime signaled Rain’s comment for the convo – he and Tristan had apparently exchanged some messages about the plan.

“Did you guys bring costume stuff?” I asked, when there was an opening.  “Those of you that have it?”

That got me confirmation from about half of the group.

“I have spare, basic masks for those that need them,” I said.  “I also have the start of my team outline written up on my laptop.  What do you guys say we move to an area with some elbow room, you can show me enough of your powers that I know what to put in the document, and we talk about what you’ve got in mind?”

It might as well have been a rhetorical question.  None of them were about to say no to that.

Previous Chapter                                                                                           Next Chapter

124 thoughts on “Glare – 3.1”

  1. Just a personal opinion, but I feel like in the first paragraph putting ‘here’ at the end disrupts the flow.
    “…because nothing I was seeing was very promising, here.”

    I would say “…because nothing I was seeing here was very promising.”
    But that’s just my opinion

    1. That’s a very Wildbow idiosyncrasy, since as far back as Worm. It’s shown up in at least five times already in Ward, here.

  2. So given the birds that followed Tt, Aiden is pretty much confirmed to be working with her, not just in her care.
    I wonder what Snuff’s power set is? My first thought was that he was Aiden in costume, but assuming the latter’s only power is controlling birds, he’d be a better bodyguard if he stayed hidden, so we can probably rule that out. Judging by the name and physical description, Snuff sounds like a brute. Also, his costume sounds oddly homemade for someone in Tt’s employ.
    Everything Tt said here sounds like a denial of the “She sent the note to convince Vicky to clean out the area for her own purposes” theory, except she could actually have that goal, and said what she did to reinforce the motivation… frickin’ thinkers… 🙂

    1. It does seem pretty likely she’s trying to taunt Victoria into operating there, really. It seems quite likely she would realize Victoria wasn’t interested in retiring, and she didn’t try to steer Victoria into going off on a grand, valuable, and glorious adventure in another dimension entirely. There must be plenty of places where they could use a mid-range Alexandria package, maybe even continuing the evacuation of Bet.

      It is also possible that Tattletale is just sending her somewhere predictable that Tattletale doesn’t much care about and she’ll proceed from whatever the outcome is. Or Tattletale does not actually give a shit about the area and the entire point of this was to spend fifteen minutes taunting Victoria to her face in order to feed more data into her power.

    2. Here’s a theory: if Victoria puts pressure on Hollow Point, they might use the answers they’ve bought sooner, or even need buy more protection from Tattletale. Maybe she’s playing both sides, here?

      1. That would only make sense if Snuff can control who he was nullifying. Tt would want her own abilities working during the meeting. That was pretty much the point of metting with Victoria.

    3. I thought this after the last interlude but this conversation with Tt confirms it for me…She is pulling a Coil. Sierra is known to have ties to “Organized Crime” as stated in the interlude, but it wouldn’t be hard to figure out those ties are to the Undersiders. The third candidate, Mr. Nieves, runs a media company but doesn’t have the resources to run a campaign against Sierra and the very interesting second candidate: Jeanne Wynn. This person is the expected winner, has a Parahuman assistant, owns the second largest construction company behind Sierra and during the meeting had an earpiece in getting outside info. How much you want to bet that outside info was from Tt who was listening in to the meeting? This meeting with Victoria was on multiple levels and I think Vicotria missed the second one where Tt tells her to retire and walk away. Tt is trying to get her to step aside on one level because of what happened with Panacea and doesn’t want to she her get hurt again, however Tt can see Victoria is bound and determined to get involved so she will use her to her own ends. She needs more clashes between Hero’s and Villians because it will let her obtain multiple goals: 1) Cause the strife that people don’t want and will look for someone to fix…Like Tt’s chosen candidate for Mayor, 2) Push Hollow Point into Tt’s camp thus giving her more direct control. The thing is the ultimate payoff is still far down the road for Tt because it is mentioned in the interlude that the first Mayor of the City would probably become the first ruler of the planet.

    4. I smiled when I saw the birds — unmissable reference to Aiden there. I ruled him out as the bodyguard though, even before that was named as Snuff: he’s a teenager at this point, and I didn’t get the impression he’d be that big. I can’t wait to find out what cape name Aiden goes by, though.

      Tattletale’s end of the conversation definitely confirms the theory about the note not being simply a threat. And yeah, it’s totally still our old girl Lisa, but with way more responsibility. And knowing how much she knows, and how all up in everything she is, I assume she’s not simply warning Victoria off, but is totally nudging her. (Especially considering she knew Kenzie was in on it, which means she knew what Kenzie’s role was. And if she knew Kenzie was recording, then she can be expected to have a good idea why.)

      I have no doubt Tt is playing a very long game here. My only question is, to what end? But then that’s what the story will be about, right?

        1. I thought something like ‘Flutter’ might be a nice reference to him being Skitters ‘shard-offspring,’ but it’s probably not that fitting for a villain

      1. I’m not sure that The would know the specifics about Kenzie. Maybe she just assumed that Victoria wouldn’t come that relaxed without backup

  3. I still struggle to tell when Tattletale is lying. She could be trying to have Victoria leave because she might actually become a threat, along with her new friends, but I’m not sure. How much about the Therapy Group does Tattletale know? I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew almost everything that Yamada had ever written down about them. I hadn’t even considered that Kenzie could design a camera/recorder that was that mobile, she is going to be insanely useful.

    1. She knows someone’s backing V up, because drone, but it seems most likely she doesn’t know about the therapy group.

      1. I think she knows enough.
        She’s been hired to get info on Rain; the group hasn’t been particularly subtle on the forums. I don’t know if there’s any info for TT about Vic joining the group, but would definitely know her username.

    2. If she wanted Victoria to actually leave, she wouldn’t have given retirement as a waitress as the best alternative. If getting Victoria out of the picture were here actual goal, she would have sighed, and said “Here’s a freebie: call Spheniscine. He’s pretty high up in Advance Guard and already has a grudge against Shortcut. See if you can steer the conversation to what happened in September. You’ll end up with AG and Shortcut will get a really solid chewing out. This isn’t the first time his ego has screwed them out of a good cape.”

      Or whatever else, but a real alternative that would be an honest temptation to Victoria.

  4. Hah, glad to know my guess about the insult being a proof of identity was correct.

    Tt was destined to become the new Coil or Accord or Entourage. The big question is, to which degree are she and hers averse to doing despicable things to get the job done?

    Also interesting to note that Victoria intends to talk powers with the team… But how much truth is she willing to share regarding her own?

    And a closing note: Tata, calling her “Vicky” was mean, you villain. Vicky died to Crawler. This here’s a brand-new way different person, who fights differently, behaves differently and actually came to have a civilized conversation with you, something Vicky would not have done. I wonder if you know all that already.

  5. I’m glad to see Victoria so calm and stable. Bodes well for her future, if she does indeed end up working with/leading these others in stressful situations.

    Also, TT’s constant “you aren’t suited for this” spiel seems kind of odd, if she was at all aware of the therapy group. I mean, just from what we know and what’s been implied so far, they seem to operate on totally different wavelengths than Victoria. Kenzie seems to be some sort of information Tinker, Ashley has a save or die attack that probably no sells most defenses, and Chris I’m guessing(/hoping) is a Thinker. These aren’t capes who are going to operate like flying Brutes.

    Put together in a functional/synergistic manner and they may have quite good odds at edging out the bunch of C/B list villains that are occupying Cedar Point. Kenzie by herself is a potential gold mine, depending on if she’s able to scale up her tech towards “surveillance state” mode. Their team would probably operate way differently than did Victoria/New Wave, so I’m kind of wondering why TT kept harping on how Victoria’s Brute force approach wouldn’t work. Is she operating off outdated info? Or is she engaging in some little reverse psychology shenanigans?

    Also also, it was pretty great seeing Victoria take intelligent steps towards quarantining the possible memetic hazard that is TT’s babbling.

    1. That’s Tt, though. That line was probably said so Victoria would give up information on her crew by how much she agreed or disagreed.

      Everyone else tends to think Tt knows everything, but we’ve seen her closely. We know how much she doesn’t know most of the time. I don’t think she knows about the group yet.

      1. On the contrary, I think she does. Especially after this nice little talk.
        Might not know who they all are (yet), but definitely aware Victoria is invested in helping a small group of new capes.

      2. Yeah, Tattletale’s very good at looking like she knows everything, but half of it is fakery, and the other half is figuring something out halfway through a sentence. My guess here is that she didn’t know anything about Victoria’s prospective team before this conversation, and still doesn’t know many specific details. By now she’s certainly figured out that there is one, and that one of them was watching somehow, but to know things like member identities and powers, she needs data to base her guesses on. Until the team gets some public presence, she can only have it through meetings like this.

    2. I think everyone suspects it was reverse psychology. One concrete possibility: she thinks this will force her clients to use up those promised asks on questions Tt believes she can answer, in a way that she believes will look impressive to these clients and others. That’s not far from what she told Victoria.

      There could be a lot more to it as well.

  6. Remember that Tattletale said it herself – everything she does is for more than one reason. That certainly includes this meeting.

    How old is Aiden now?

    1. Aiden was somewhere around nine or ten when Skitter was ruling her territory, I think. This is about 4 years later, so he’s probably a young teen.

      1. jm691 on reddit pointed out that in 26.x Aiden is seven:

        “Aidan hung his head.

        “That’s excellent,” Tattletale said. She looked at the seven year old. “How are you?””

        Which would make him about nine now

  7. ” The PRT thought she had the ability to sense weak points, primarily psychological ones. I agree with that assessment.”

    Nice to know that Tattletale has still been doing a good job keeping the true nature of her power secret.

      1. Maybe they just aren’t telling? It’s very rude to share information on your enemies obtained during an Endbringer fight. Even more so for Gold Morning. Victoria’s contacts in the inner circle of the Cape Illuminati aren’t that great. She and Amy aren’t on speaking terms, and Yamada takes confidentiality seriously. Victoria’s intel on Tattletale is limited to what’s public and what she can remember.

  8. Dang, Tattletale is a jerk. That’s sort of surprising, considering what little I remember of her, but I guess it kind of fits. I’d just expected/hoped that once she was firmly in power, she wouldn’t feel the need to belittle people who weren’t either seriously challenging her (most of the people she mocked in Worm) or uptight and therefore funny to annoy (Accord, possibly Defiant).
    Actually, I think she generally seemed more mischievous than cruel, before, and when she was vicious it was because she had a considerable emotional stake in what was going on, or because she thought her life was on the line. So I wonder what she has against Victoria? Perhaps she’s befriended Amy, and is upset that Victoria won’t even hear Amy out? Or perhaps Victoria’s situation strikes a little too close to home for Sarah? Sarah triggered after her brother killed himself, after all, and rejecting reconciliation with a sibling might seem unusually bad to her.
    I think Tattletale was always rather emotionally driven. I doubt that’s changed much. On the other hand, I’m sleep deprived. Maybe take my analysis with a proverbial grain of salt.

    1. Remember though that in Worm we only see TT through the eyes of people who like her, and we get to see her be tender or empathetic or humorous.

      This is the TT that everyone *else* sees: Raging queen bitch who thinks she’s so above it all. We the audience know that this is at least 50% an act ‘cos pissing people off is how TT operates. (Ok maybe 33% an act). All Vicky knows is that TT is the twerp who made her life hell, and now she’s a big time queenpin and Vicky’s a volunteer hero coach/unemployed.

      I do wonder at how much this is personal for Vicky now, and how that is going to completely blow up in everyone’s faces.

    2. Tt is as broken as the rest of them. She was nearly coming unhinged when echidna came around. She blamed herself for Taylor before she essentially killed herself to save the world, which has to hit to someone that blames herself for her brother’s suicide. Being mean and reckless is how she copes since forever. And it’s also how her power works best.

      You also have to see Victoria without the lens of this last couple of arcs. Tt doesn’t really like Victoria, just like most readers didn’t. She felt unapologetic and completely incapable of empathy. Even here she’s still blaming Tt for what happened to Amy. All Tt said was the truth. I can’t blame Tt more than Amy’s parents. Not more than the system that let’s a teenager feel responsible for the lives of everyone on the planet. Heck, not more than Victoria herself that couldn’t even understand her sister has a mental block and kept blaming her for her father’s sickness. Definitely not more than fucking Bonesaw.

      Tt just basically said “If you keep fighting I’ll tell your sister you like her!” It’s hard to blame someone when THAT blows up so fucking hard. I guess if you see her power as “seeing weaknesses” it takes a different connotation, but her power just let’s her see the truth. If saying that would make someone stop fighting me, I would. Specially if that someone was Amy.

      So I’m not surprised Tt isn’t friendly to Victoria. Her perspective is no different than that of the rest of the readers that disliked Glory Girl.

    3. “So I wonder what she has against Victoria?”
      Having just reread a couple of Glory Girl sections in Worm I’m not sure there is much to wonder about here. Recall how awful she was. I’m not saying there isn’t something more to it, but I don’t think there has to be anything more to it at the same time. Anyway, the idea that she’s provoking Victoria into operating is interesting and would fit her character, too.

    4. I got the sense that she doesn’t really like being the Kingpin of New Brockton. Her tired-and-lonely thing could have been an act, but I don’t think it was. I’m guessing her quest to find Taylor isn’t going so well, and none of her old teammates ever call.

      Also she might have been cursed by the Simurgh.

      1. Tattletale might need to call Yamada for some therapy. I wonder how in the longterm the Undersiders dealt with Taylor’s and Grue’s loss. It probably wasn’t that good.

        But the thought of being cursed by the Simurgh is a scary one.

    5. I honestly didn’t read the conversation as Tats disliking our girl V. I read it as her trying to poke as she always does for the simple reason that it’s how she maximises our power. After all one way to think of Tt’s power is that she’s constantly making hypotheses about stuff and then idenktifying the truth among multiple hypotheses. So the more hypotheses she makes the more stuff she can figure out. And the fastest way to do that in conversations is to prod and poke. That said I did feel like she tried to be gentle with Victoria, like she was doing her usual thing but she was trying to do it as gently as possible while still getting as much info as she could.

      Or is that just me?

  9. “I walked, rather than fly, because the directions… “. Inconsistent tense? Maybe change “fly” to “flew”.

    1. Is this the typo thread? In the Table of Contents, Interlude 1 is labeled as “Prance”, while it should be “Prancer”

    2. “It was sectioned off, the skeleton of a winding serpent with each vertebrae several feet from the other.”

      Should be “vertebra”. “Vertebrae” is plural.

  10. Did anyone else think that the phrase “in my very very roundabout way” was significant? Added to TT saying that it’s “not [Victoria’s] skill set”?

    Because I don’t know if I’m thinking too hard when I figure that TT is actually trying to encourage Team Therapy. Tattletale, you make my head hurt…

    1. Tt made it obvious she knew of Kenzie’s presence (although remote) – she probably has a rough but correct picture of the situation. This kind of situation is about the best kind of setup for her power; no distraction or overload, clean verbal and nonverbal cues.
      I’m pretty sure she’s also interested in Victoria coaching Group Therapy so they don’t crash and burn instantly. Playing the long game, as usual.

  11. Tattletale was more open than I thought she’d be. Also, I support the Tt knows that Victoria won’t listen and is trying to steer her.

    She would also know about the camera.

    At first I was surprised that Tt made an appearance this early but it makes sense. She’s trying to tell the world that she’s small time and not that dangerous. This meeting reinforces that impression.

    She wants Victoria to restart her heroine career and be smart about it.

    1. I really don’t think this is what’s happening here. Unless Lisa needs a new project to take care of, she probably has better things to do than steer Vici in a direction where she can become a nuisance to her.
      In real life I would say it’s (wishful) thinking to assume that the people around you have more insight (wich in this case she probably has..) and are benevolent (or malevolent) enough to do things just for your sake. Actually a very common self-centered bias.

      Of course I don’t know where Wildbow is going with this, but he is usually more spot on with human behavior..

  12. I call eventual frenemy type of respect between Victoria and Tattletale. Not because I fully read into Tattletale’s motivations here, I gotta admit this is more blind faith and I-want-to-see-this bias. It will add layers to our experiences of Tattletale and Victoria in ways that are not just re-expressing their characters in Worm.

  13. This reads both to me of a bunch of reverse psychology with TT actually trying to make Vicky invested and entrenched… while at the same time TT nusing her deep emotional grudge against situations like Vicky and Amy’s…

    Seriously when TT looks at Victoria… she’s got to be seeing herself only worse than not knowing but an adamant refusal to be part of the solution where she herself would give anything of herself to fix the thing going wrong.

    The same way Victoria looks at TH and sees everything being broken and wrong… TT probably can’t help but see the same of Victoria from a different angle.

  14. It seems Tattletale is still a scheming bitch. People like her tend to forget that all that’s needed to defeat them is application of sufficient force and I hope Vicky is the one to apply it with her boot.

  15. I’m rereading Worm right now, just between chapters. And I’ve just finished the bank robbery. It’s quite enlightening, knowing what she’s doing when she’s offscreen. It’s a good bit, too.

    Offscreen should be a Stranger.

    1. Yeah, when Victoria brought up the rest of Tattle’s team, my mind immediately jumped to the fact that half of them are dead (for all intents and purposes). Imp is definitely around, though, as is Aiden, but I’m not sure who else stuck around post-Gold Morning.

      1. Regent and Grue are confirmed dead. Skitter’s MIA. Bitch is alive, but probably hasn’t kept in touch with Tattletale. She lives in the wilderness with a pack of dogs, and were never really friends, anyway. Imp is alive, and doing her own thing with the Heartbroken. That girl Grue hooked up with during the timeskip, can’t even remember her name, no idea what happened to her. Foil and Parian are alive, I’m pretty sure, but I don’t have any guesses on what they’re doing these days.

  16. I think part of the problem is that in the end The Undersiders still are kinda a street gang and acting like it in terms of how they use their power and try to improve the world. But eventually that doesn’t work. It’s like the saying “You cannot rule an empire from horseback.” Sure your armies of bowmen on horses might earn you the empire, but actually keeping it running? Improving the infrastructure? Keeping it from turning into a mess that collapses? That’s a whole different skillset, and requires changing how you do everything.

    Also ironically Taylor may a 21 year old who couldn’t get into university serving sandwichs wherever she is.

  17. Well here we have a chapter showing two broken young women with horrible pasts, (Amy for Victoria, and her brother’s suicide for Tt) manage to sit down and agree to converse in what for these two is a civil manner.

    “Go home, and tell your kid about the glory days.” That strikes me as Tt telling Vicky to keep team therapy (‘her kids’ maybe) out of the game, and inform them of why it’s a bad idea.

    Also, Lisa has a bitch rating seven in part because of her first generation shard, something that would influence her to be combative even if she didn’t want to be. Vicky maybe has more luck due to being a second gen cape.

    That said, I’m tentatively adding Aiden to ‘capes confirmed alive’ in Ward.

    I’ve got to wonder if his cape name will be ‘Hitchcock’.

  18. It’s interesting to see how much the viewpoint affects my interpretation of the scene. If this was still Worm, with the Undersiders as the protagonists, I would be on Tattletale’s side here, and probably confident with how she handled Victoria. Except now that we’re in Victoria’s head and understand her more, I see that Victoria knows her way around Tattletale more than most, and while Tattletale is likely steering her in some direction, I expect Victoria to make the smart decision here.

  19. So it’s a little unclear to me why Victoria is meeting up with Tattletale here. But it seem like Victoria is either clueless about what coaching actually mean (it doesn’t mean doing the actual work for the people you are coaching) or she is randomly including the therapy gang in her own issues with Tattletale. In either case, it doesn’t reflect well on her.

    1. I disagree with you assessment. This meeting *had* to be done by Victoria – Team Therapy could not have done it. Multiple reasons:

      1) TT is good at prodding issues. Team Therapy (we have a shortage of acronyms here) is a bundle of issues. Victoria is too, but she’s at least practiced in controlling them.
      2) TT wouldn’t agree to meet with Team Therapy. She doesn’t see Victoria as an equal exactly, but there is a degree of mutual respect. Team Therapy doesn’t have that.
      3) TT knows too much about Victoria and her hangups – letting her meet with Team Therapy is just asking for her to poison the well.
      4) Team Therapy doesn’t have enough experience to ask the right questions and observe the right details in order to maximize the information they learn from TT.

      There’s probably more, but I think that that’s sufficient for now.

      1. I see you point that Victoria was the only choice rather than someone from Team Therapy. But that doesn’t explain why she is involving the team at all with this. I mean, these are untested kids that she is supposed to just be coaching and keeping out of trouble. Victoria is supposed to be the responsible adult here, but for some reason she instantly brought them into a confrontation with a major Villain she has history with.

          1. Only according to March. I still don’t really see TT backing a plan to murder someone. She has lines she doesn’t want to cross.

        1. I don’t see how Victoria is causing a confrontation. If the group is going to act as a hero group then they will need an area to protect. Victoria was scouting possible areas, and in doing so attracted a warning from Tt. She then met with Tt to clarify exactly what the warning covered.

          The meeting didn’t make a confrontation more likely – that will be determined entirely by where the team sets up. All it did was make them better informed about the dangers. Victoria’s presence doesn’t change Tt’s involvement either – that’s based on a prior agreement with the Cape gang.

          1. If that is what Victoria was doing (scouting), she didn’t have to go about this so obliviously. She could have waited until she had better information and checked out the various areas in her civilian clothes. That way she wouldn’t have tipped of the local villains and they wouldn’t get time to prepare countermeasures.

  20. Looks like there’s a lot of Tt beef on here.

    Tattletale has issues, no doubt, and she can be annoying, but I never read her as an out-and-out villain. My impression from Worm was that her friendship with Taylor changed her in some ways, from someone who wanted to just have fun and do what she wanted to someone who enjoyed power and then to someone who knew firsthand the danger of power and was really wanting to use it for good ends, but without being naive. And her power does not allow her to be at all naive.

    The difference between her and Victoria is that Victoria is a bit more idealistic — not naively but also not as accepting of the crappiness of situations as Tt is.

    I feel like Victoria gets this on some level too, despite their history.

    I’m glad to see Tattletale will be playing a major role in this story, and I totally see her as almost Cauldron level influential. But hopefully much less inhumane.

    Or maybe I just like Tattletale too much. But really I like them both very much.

    1. I’m wondering how her power has broken Tattletale. The Crystalclear chapter had him basically state that even as thinkers gain, their perception is weakened elsewhere. Maybe Tattletale’s shard has weakened her conscious analytical/logical thinking?

      Or maybe her actual ability is her shard running alien logic algorithms and applying them to what she perceives so that while “true” within the system it’s both alien and geared towards maximizing conflict. Tattletale’s power is actually really disturbing to me post shard reveal. Before it was to me just some weird superpowered instinctive sherlock holmsing. Post reveal it seems like her shard whispering in her ear demon-like. I wonder if it makes mistakes on purpose at key points to maximize conflict or just to continue its space-whale agenda.

      Shooting fire from your hands or something like that seems like you’re a certain degree of separated from the shard. Tattletale is so intimately tied to her shard in a fundamental way that’s part of her identity.

      Do all shards subtly manipulate hormones or “whisper” to the empowered?

      My biggest worry for tattletale is that she might reach a point whereshe doesn’t need to turn her power off whike awake and that her identity slowly becomes subsumed by the shard.

      Yeesh.

      1. I’ve always thought that Tattletale’s flaw was being nearly incapable of introspection. Her power gives her information about others makes her unable to think deeply about herself.

        Look at her during Worm – after all the things she does, from facing down S-Class threats to making friends with the Undersiders to running an entire city, she’s still the same smug, vicious bully that we saw during the bank robbery arc. She’d be one of the more pitiable characters if she wasn’t so annoying.

        1. Lisa’s power has made it so she can’t have sex due to too much information. It’s clear Lisa really needs to get laid. That’s the downside.

  21. The more I think about it, the stranger Aiden’s obvious presence seems. While anyone who’s seen The Birds knows that his power can be used offensively to great effect, it seems like Tattletale would gain a great deal more from using it covertly for information gathering. And birds being more difficult to conceal than bugs, covert operations become significantly more difficult if people are aware that nearby birds could possibly be spies. So why did she show them off, rather than concealing them as an ace?

    1. I was thinking about this, especially considering Aiden would be about 11 unless wb has done a sneaky age jump (hey, not judging) and is a bit young to be a henchman even in the wormverse. Personally my guess is the obvious parallels between him and skitter. She was the one who put the undersiders on the map in the first place, she was the one who escalated every conflict turning them from robbers to crime lords. She was utterly notorious in a way no other undersider was even before the Khepri thing. Any one from Brockton Bay is going to see Aidens power set (which since he only triggered once is less nuanced then hers so be might not be able to spy the way skitter could) and think of her. It’s a subtle reminder to Victoria and any other brockton bay who exactly they’re dealing with.

      1. Good point on Tt not keeping Aiden’s power a secret.

        Maybe he’s already a well-known fixture of New Brockton’s cape scene.

      2. It’s possible Aiden’s twelve. After all when Tattletale asks him his age and we are told he’s seven, his next birthday could have been later that week…

    2. From what I remember (could be wrong), Aiden’s power gives him less fine control than Taylor’s. He works by”pushing” and “pulling”, instead of the direct control Taylor had. I’d bet that that would make him less useful as a spy.

  22. So every seems to be saying Tt is being super mean here, but… like… She’s tired. She’s dealing with someone she doesn’t particularly like or trust, someone who (she claims) is liable to create a mess she will have to clean up in future… and her feelings are complicated both by sympathy over what happened with Amy, but also Blame (in that she probably Blames GG in large part for what went wrong… an issue that it should be mention she worked hard trying to fix… while S9 was in town).
    She seems tired and frustrated and trying to handle a difficult person she doesn’t like, who happens to seem dense and/or stubborn.
    If anything, she comes across as deliberately gentle compared to what we’ve seen previously.

    Also… considering that it is literally Tt’s JOB to get paid for information (at least, so she tells everyone), she giving away of lot of information for free here. She says the deal on ceder point, the kind of villians GG will find there, she names one of them and explains that he deserves his ass kicked, she explains that they have paid her for three “asks”, and already used one, and that GG style brute force is not the right tool here.
    She’s practically giving Victoria an instruction manual here. “Use subterfuge” “Force them to expend more of their asks” “Find out who Cleat hangs out with” “Don’t be a fucking brute”.

    The repeated “YOUR skills are not good” while she knows Victoria has at least one ally seems like a bit of a major hint.

    Not to mention, getting Vicky to play this from the side is good for bussiness: If Vicky shows up with brute force, Hollow point Villians are liable to hire force… but if she shows up with something a little more sideways, leaves her enemies confused, they are liable to go to Tt for help (PROFIT!), so forcing vicky to play the game in a way that includes Tt makes sense even just from a selfish sense.

    And on top of that, Tt ALSO explains the underlying socio-economic issues that CAUSE this to happen.

    The one thing I don’t get is when Victoria asks “Do you blame yourself about Amy?”
    I mean… Yeah, Tt may have poked at something during the Bank job, but she didn’t CREATE it, and during the S9 arc she: Saved Amy’s life, talked her back from madness and dispair towards doing something useful, Taylor pulled Victoria back from crawler, Tt then convinced amy to save Vicky’s life, and stuck her neck out trying to get Amy to hold back, as well as offering her a place on the team in the hopes of giving her SOME level of support and supervision.

    [From Prey 14.6]
    “Fix her,” Tattletale said. “You know what you did to her, you know it was wrong, undo it and walk away.”

    “Can’t,” Amy shook her head, “I said I’ve done as much as I can, but there’s so much more I need to fix. The parts I made with the bits I took from bugs will need to be replaced with real flesh.”

    “That’s her choice. You saved her life, good on you, but you need to let her make the call.”

    She may have regrets about what happened with Amy, but I’d guess it was more to do with what she failed to do than what she did. She literally did everything in her power to make things less fucked up, and that was after taking the blame for messing things up, when really she was just the person who drew attention to pre-existing issues.
    I’m kind of surprised she doesn’t mention all this, just blast GG with the whole “You fucking owe me.”

    1. Great comment.
      Not only Victoria, I’m surprised how many people in fandom actually blame Tt for Amy. One guy at parahumans subreddit even commented that what Tt did to Amy is not different to what Madison did to Taylor. Comment got like 50 upvotes. Amazing.

  23. Aiden has a power that could spread a very long way.

    Hens are fowl
    Turkeys are fowl
    Tattletale could easily run an egg laying business.and she’s good a fowl play, much like a vixen in a hen house.

    Now more seriously, depending on how Aiden’s power works, and how good he is in it, just consider the avian population of most cities. Now add pets, people keeping chickens for their eggs. And and duck ponds, too

    I’m sure you guys can come up with more.

  24. This is some of my favourite chapters so far. I really liked the return of Tattletale and the tense conversation between her and Victoria. I can’t say that I am blown away by Ward so far, but I am really curious to see where this particular thread goes.

  25. I forgot how gloriously bitchy TT was. I’m having good fun imaging a worm /twig crossover where her and sy go head in a manipulative bastard-off. (Throw in an Aiden/Evan bird bros scene for good measure).

    1. “Blake! Blakeblakeblakeblakeblake!”

      “Yes, Evan?”

      “There’s a SHINY.”

      “Over where the coked-out looking pigeons are?”

      “Yeah! Can we look?”

      “Can I remind you what happened the last 13 times I touched something “shiny”?”

      “Oh, right.”

  26. It’s interesting to see that Victoria (and by extension the heroes in general) still don’t know what Tattletale’s power really is.

  27. It’s good to see Tattletale back, but I liked it even more to see the birds. Interesting, as I never cared too much about Aiden in Worm.

    I expected Tattletale to act like a bitch and she delivered. Seeing her from the other side is just so hilariously frustrating. And kind of sad, made me thinking of how the rest of the Undersiders is dealing now, I really wish we could see them now and how they adjusted to their new life.

    And the therapy group talking about powers and costumes? I really look forward to it.

  28. So, tattle tale doing multiple things at the same time, right? And Victoria isn’t a major player, but Panacea is. I’m betting TT came to Victoria in person so she has some information to trade with should Amy come to her….

  29. One other thing that strikes me is that no one there would trust Tattletale if she *weren’t* being ‘unnecessarily antagonistic’: this is a supposed heroine she’s dealing with, as a villain. Her henchmen would be confused, or (worse) possibly mutinous, if she were *too* friendly. And it isn’t as if Victoria’s going to be any easier to recruit than Amy, so why rush it?

  30. On the subject of teammates: “You know full well they’re well positioned too. They’re doing their own things. They’re still a resource I can and will tap”
    =’Don’t make me call Kephri. Because I can.’
    BTW, have we heard anything from Planet A – bets that Taylor, Sunny D, and「Dreams in Digital」 have taken it over for Entirely Justified Reasons(c)?

    1. Not sure I follow. Dragon and Defiant don’t seem to be on Earth Aleph with Taylor. Also, while I’d definitely vote Taylor For President, I kind of hope she’s become a fashion designer.

  31. I want Lisa to be happy, does she even have any friends left? Brian and Taylor were the ones she was closest to on the team and they’re both gone, she was never close to the others. They were also the ones to reel her in when she got in over her head.

    I think Victoria is giving Tt too much credit when it comes to Amy’s downward spiral, her dysfunctional family and aura already sent her on that path. In fact Lisa and Taylor were the only ones who wanted to help Amy during the SlaughterHouse 9 debacle.

  32. Now that we’ve got Tattle in the mix I’d love to see Bitch or Imp. In my eyes, Imp always had one of the most interesting powers and it’d be interesting to see how she’d react to Victoria’s aura

  33. I just realized, Tattletale probably benefits from throwing out a bunch of random stuff, regardless of whether or not that stuff actually has any meaning. Because of the way the Wardens think her power targets weakpoints, any chatter she spews is automatically assumed to be intentional and have some deep meaning on her part, adding to her rep. And because of the way her power actually does work, she’s probably mining all kinds of information with her ramblings.

  34. I think I was kind of on board with the whole idea that Tattletale was being a superbitch in this convo. Except, then, I thought that WB basically announced how this whole scene should be interpreted up front. Tattletale is always trying to do multiple things at once. Read beneath the lines.

    So, in light of that, this is what that conversation looks like to me.

    1) Let Victoria know the specifics of her business deal with Cedar Point (three asks, at a discount, and they blew through one). She didn’t need to do this.

    2) Let Vicki know she had a vested interest in seeing Cedar Point succeed (“If that tide somehow rises, I want my fortunes to rise with it.”)

    3) Re-emphasized that Victoria should be reading between the lines (“Multiple purposes, Vicky. Keep up.”)

    4) Let her know that the villains in Cedar Point weren’t high caliber or well-organized (“For now, you’ve got people of Cleat’s caliber there”)

    5) Flat out stated that she wasn’t interested in driving Victoria away (“No,” she said “You want you gone, if you know…”).

    6) Let her know that Cedar Point didn’t have any major players.

    7) Stated that if Cedar Point called in a favor from her, it would be bad, but not as bad as if they called in somebody else.

    8) Passed up on a golden opportunity to point her elsewhere (“It’s a wild west out there and there’s no place for you..”)

    9) Let her know roughly what the structure of the area was, how entrenched villains usually are, and that the ones in Cedar Point are less well-established.

    10) Let her know that Cedar Point might be vulnerable to somebody genuinely nasty stepping in and taking over.

    11) Goaded her a bit to look like she was dissuading her, but not enough that it actually dissuaded her.

    12) Let her know that Cedar Point is on the verge of fading and becoming irrelevant. Probably important in light of the fact that she stated earlier that she had a vested interest in seeing the place succeed.

    13) Let her know that she was interested in stability and safety. (After spending much of the previous conversaion letting her know that Cedar Point was potentially unstable and vulnerable).

    14) Re-emhpasized that Victoria should be reading between the lines right now, right at this moment, because she’s playing multiple angles and long-term plans again, the same way she did during the bank heist.

    My impression is that Tattletale is being watched. By her subordinates, by her “partners” at Cedar Point, and possibly by somebody else. This might explain why she was so cavalier about letting Victoria see Aidan’s birds, letting her know that this conversation was not private. Since she’s walking a tightrope, she has to appear tough on the potential superhero. But, at the same time, if she really wanted to dissuade Victoria, she could easily have done it and pointed her in a different direction. Victoria even asked her to, and Tattletale turned down the opportunity. It sounds to me like that whole conversation was Tattletale doing what she does best – playing every angle simultaneously, getting a few good jabs in, seeing to her own interests and trying to push things towards a better outcome.

    Definitely part of the reason she’s one of my favorite characters. Once you get how astoundingly meta she is, it’s hard not to admire that.

    1. I don’t entirely agree with the conclusion, but this analysis is solid. Tt is clearly playing here. She could have easily directed Victoria elsewhere. She’s made it clear, if you’re willing to think in Tattletalese, that she’s working to encourage Victoria and crew. I think we’ll discover her reasons later, much later.

  35. I know it won’t happen because it would be too close to worm, but I was REALLY hoping that Victoria would start a begrudging but necessary alliance with tattletale.

    Not because I want to see her slowly sacrifice her morals, but because I want the groundwork to be laid for tt to apologize and for them to become friends.

    I friendShip them so hard.
    If they were on the same side and overcame their differences and forgave each other, you gotta admit that their personalities would bring out the better parts of the other. Lisa would get another person like Taylor to help as a surrogate for her brother, while being pushed to the light side by influence, and Victoria gets someone she can be sarcastic and banter-y to who won’t accidentally bring up things that trigger her, all while getting the info she’s desperate for, and having an ally to deal with Amy if she’s working with teacher

  36. I think TattleTale was telling Victoria the honest truth. If she aproaches this situation as Glory would, then it is doomed for failure. This is TT’s way of warning Victoria to change her methods. And also alerting her to the fact of what opposition can be found.

    I do believe it was snarky, and if Victoria hadn’t achieved a new level of maturity there was no way she would be able to act upon (let alone realize) this advice. I do think Lisa is as always playing a long game, but I think she’d rather that section of town be without random villains, and only approved sorts.

  37. I momentarily lost my breath when I realized she was meeting with Tt!
    Who did seem tired and weary and prickly. It’s true of course that her warmth was mostly reserved for Taylor, but at least she was honest and clear with Victoria, to a level at least (yes, I know, a level that it really just one layer upon profound depths of cunning and scheming, but still… No ?)

  38. So. Much. Build up.

    I gotta say, Tattletale is looking more and more like a full fledged bad guy than in the previous story, which may be due to perspective changes. I hope we get glimpses of old character daily lives as the story progresses.

    I’m also sad at how much I like this team and how mentally unprepared I am that something bad might happen to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *